Monday, July 14, 2014

Warm and active

I'm back from my mini-break and while envious of some of my friends and family who seem to have gone to places like Europe, Hawaii, New Zealand, Kakadu, Port Douglas and Hobart over the school holidays, it wasn't too bad staying home in Melbourne especially as Mr Rosanna took the second week off work to have some family time with me and the boys.

I took my own advice regarding staying warm and active so the time passed pretty quickly.  One of the highlights included taking the boys to the snow for the first time.  We went to Lake Mountain which is less than two hours drive away from here and had a really fun day out tobogganing down the mountainside along with half of Melbourne.  It's a beautiful drive through Yarra Glen to Healesville and then onto Marysville through the trees and ferns as you wind along the road (be careful of carsickness!).  It was a more sobering experience travelling to Marysville itself (where you can hire all your clothes, toboggans and skis) as they are still re-building the town after the Black Saturday bushfires and all around there are skeleton trees still standing in the mountainside.  Trees that sadly died as they were burnt down to their roots and haven't regenerated.  It was somewhat eerie looking out onto all of them on the drive up to Lake Mountain and on Lake Mountain itself.  I can't even begin to imagine how big the fires must have been that day.
Skeleton trees - Lake Mountain
Other highlights included a day trip into the city sans kids where Mr R took me to Emporium Melbourne.  And while I'm not much of a mall person these days, it was the perfect antidote to the cold, wet weather outside.  I have long had a thing for Japanese department stores so had a great time going to both Uniqlo (which is more fast fashion) and Muji (which isn't).  They were both a real experience and opposite to each other in many respects.  Uniqlo's very bright and upbeat (I found myself dancing to the in-store music while waiting for a change room) with lots of sales assistants asking if I had found what I was looking for.  I will say, they are great for high quality, affordable cotton and knit basics as well as their performance fabrics.  I bought a couple of their long sleeved heattech tops as undergarments for warmth while Mr R is a fan of their airism range which keeps moisture away from the skin (good for exercising in).  Their range of compact down jackets and vests has also become fairly ubiquitous in Melbourne.  Meanwhile Muji was a completely different experience with its low key, zen-like feel and emphasis on design and sustainability.  I didn't buy anything from there but I do like their homewares and travel gear in particular as their clothing was a bit too 'normcore' for me.  Mr R and I also grabbed some late afternoon dumplings from New Shanghai (after seeing a tip in Joyce Watts' Mel:Hot or Not blog) in the very upmarket Emporium food court.

I also had a couple of dinners out with friends which again were very different.  I had a fantastic night out at Paladarr Thai in Alphington (where I've previously dined but not for a few years) scoring the table right in front of the fireplace (they also have an outdoor courtyard).  It's more of a special occasion place given how pricey it is (three of us each paid $70 per head for dinner that night) but is an incredibly lovely and sophisticated, intimate dining space as a former Art Deco bank turned restaurant - a good one to go to for a romantic night out with your partner.  I also had dinner at Haveli Indian Restaurant in Doncaster East which was considerably less opulent (dinner for three of us cost just over $70 in total!) but very traditional.  It's not a place you go to for the ambience (we were seated under a very bright light with an Indian birthday party going on in the adjoining dining area complete with loud music and horn blowing), however the food was excellent and they have a man out the front behind the window who makes naan bread so it all felt very quaint and very authentic in many ways - the waiters were lovely.
Up, up...
..and away!
My final highlights were actually free and included taking the boys to the Tullamarine Airport Aircraft Viewing Area on Operations Road (turn left for Sunbury as you exit the airport) after driving Granny Annie there (who'd been in Melbourne visiting me for my birthday) to catch her plane back up north.  We had a great time eating hot jam donuts in the car (there is a food van there) and watching the planes soar above us.  Another highlight for me was going for a couple of runs around Rosanna park and seeing some black cockatoos in the trees overhead just near the second playground off Thompson Drive.  While I often see white cockatoos around here, the black ones have become increasingly rare so I felt a bit special to have seen some close up.

Lots going on this week and I'll be back later this week with more.

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